December 29, 2013

Creative solution for portable radials!

By Keith, KN5G - Take a look this photo. If that doesn’t get your “HAM” creative juices flowing I’m not sure what will.  I was recently in the process of putting together a 4-band HF vertical antenna to be used as a portable antenna and ran across another ham’s write-up talking about using metal tape measures as temporary radials for an antenna they put up at a Field Day event.

Then, while talking to David, W5TWC about the tape measure radials, he recounted using a couple of tape measures to erect an inverted "V" antenna, so this got me to thinking, (not always a good thing), about what I could do with a few tape measures of various lengths.

December 26, 2013

What'd you get for Christmas?

Well, another Christmas has come and gone. But what was left in its wake? Here's a sampling of what some local hams got. Did you get something too?? Send me a photo (send it to w5cwt with the domain part being and I'll add it to the list!

NU5G got a leg up this year!

NU5G's Christmas Lamp

W5CWT got a new 2m mobile and is ordering a new HF vertical antenna!

W5CWT's new mobile

November 21, 2013

Lions roar about the RCARC

Henderson Daily News, 11/21/2013
Richard (K5RRB) and David (W5CWT) spoke to the Henderson Lions Club on Wednesday, promoting ham radio and the Rusk County Amateur Radio Club. Several of the club members asked
questions ranging from license requirements (including CW) and emergency preparedness.

The club also got a nod from the Henderson Daily News with a story and photo about the program. If anyone has any contacts with other service clubs in the area, let us know and we'll be happy to put on a program!

November 20, 2013

Special Events and Logging Software

Rusk County hams got a chance to learn about special events, Boy Scout on-air jamborees and logging software Tuesday evening during the Rusk County Amateur Radio Club's November meeting.

Tom Noe (W5DTN), of Longview, visited the club and shared some his experiences with special event stations. Tom explained the process of applying for a special "1x1" callsign for special events such as the Syrup Festival and Field Day.

Tom also demonstrated the logging software he uses for contests like Field Day. He explained that he preferred to use the technique of "sitting" on a single frequency to rack up contacts, instead of dialing up and down the band looking for strong signals.

November 12, 2013

Hamming it up at the Syrup Festival

Thousands of people attended Henderson's Syrup Festal November 9th, and many of them stopped by the Rusk County ARC's booth! Thanks to K5RRB (Richard) who designed a nice setup including three pieces of tower for the booth and to Craig (KD5YHR) for helping to get it put up!

In additional to several contacts made throughout the day, N5SAY (Dudley) was able to work the repeater from Buffalo, Texas, logging a contacts of just over 95 miles. He arrived later to man the booth.

Club members handed out flyers and information about becoming a ham and also worked closely with the Rusk County Emergency Management Office which activated its emergency response trailer for the duration of the festival.

November 08, 2013

Are QSL cards waiting on you?

Are hams from exotic countries trying to send you a QSL card? Is there a pile of cards just waiting to be sent to your station? The ARRL's incoming QSL Bureau is free of charge, but unless you've send a SASE or money to pay for postage, your cards may be waiting on a self, delayed from making that final leg of the trip to you.

It used to be that the only way you would know was if you sent a SASE to the bureau. Then you waited. Or maybe you got lucky and a generous QSL sorter dropped you a postcard to let you know cards were on file for you. Now, however, the answer may be just a mouse click away! 

If your callsign contains a five, the person responsible for sorting your cards has posted his or her database online. It's waiting to searched right now! Search it from our own Operating Page or click through to the Bureau's website and search from there. Good luck!

November 07, 2013

New Calendar added to the RCARC website

A new calendar has been added to the website. You'll find the calendar under the "About Us" tab or by clicking here. We will be posting regular club events such as meetings and nets on the calendar.

If you have an other events, contests, or ham fests, just email David (W5CWT) to get them added. Email him at dhchenault[at]

November 04, 2013

Can you catch W1AW this winter?

The ARRL released an updated operating schedule for it's W1AW station today. The schedule adjusts some of the stations bulletins, news and practice sessions for standard time which began Sunday morning.

The entire schedule can be found on the ARRL's website here.

September 30, 2013

A little love from the Henderson Daily News!

Front page of  Henderson Daily News for Sept 30, 2013
Rusk County Hams got a little recognition by the Henderson Daily News with a front page story about their recent visit to the Rotary Club. KF5QXL and NU5G both made the front page photo as they displayed some of their own equipment to the Rotarians. Thanks to Gregg for a great write-up!

September 29, 2013

Rotarians hear about Henderson Hams

W5CWT speaks at the Rotary Club
Michael (KF5QXL), Jon (NU5G) and David (W5CWT), visited the Henderson Rotary Club on Friday and spoke about ham radio. Michael told about emergency service ham radio can provide, Jon spoke about storm spotting and how he got involved in ham radio and David gave an overview and spoke specifically about the club in Rusk County.

Several of the Rotarians asked questions and were interested in the equipment that was on display. Some even asked how they might get involved in the hobby.

September 27, 2013

Satellites main topic at September meeting

Clayton Coleman, W5PFG, spoke to club members during the September; Rusk County Amateur Radio Club’s meeting. Clayton shared his passion for “Working the Birds”, or amateur satellites, and informed members that there are currently five "LEO" (Low Earth Orbit) satellites available to amateurs. Even amateurs with modest equipment and a Technician Class license or above can use them.

Clayton brought some of his equipment, a VHF mobile radio and a couple of hand held antennas as examples of the normal equipment he uses to make contacts with other amateur operators through the satellites.

August 29, 2013

RCARC's First Weekly Net... is in the can!

The Rusk County Amateur Radio Club held its first weekly net Thursday night (August 29). Sixteen amateurs, including net control, checked-in to the net. Hams from as far away as Pittsburg and Lake Palestine joined in on the conversation.

"I was very pleased with our first net," said Keith Ballow, the club's current president. "It was very successful." Keith also served as the net control for the on-air meeting.

The net was held on the club's repeater on 146.78 MHz, with an offset of -0.6 and a 131.8 PL tone. The club is planning to hold a net every Thursday evening at 7 p.m., except the fourth Thursday of each month, which is the night of the regular club meeting. All hams are welcome to check-in during the next net!

August 26, 2013

Repeater reaches new heights!

New Repeater Location
Thanks to Richard, Jon and Dudley for lending a hand Saturday (August 24th) morning to move the RCARC's repeater to the Rusk County Electric Association's tower, which is located off highway 43, just east of Henderson.  We also very much appreciate the Rusk County Electric Association for allowing us to place the repeater at their tower site.

The repeater's antenna is now located at the top of the REA tower at an elevation of approximately 410 feet, and we have already received several excellent signal reports from amateur stations in Jacksonville, Lake Port, Nacogdoches, and Tyler.

This site will allow Amateur Radio Operators in the area to be much more effective when responding to public service events such as SkyWarn (inclement weather reporting) and other emergencies that might arise in our area.

August 05, 2013

Back to the Mesh Nodes gentlemen!

A new version of the HSMM-Mesh node software has been released. And with the new release, comes a change in the name. The non-intuitive, albeit nice and short "HSMM-Mesh" has changed to a fairly cumbersome, but descriptive "Broadband-Hamnet" I'll leave it to you to determine if that is a good thing or a bad thing.

At any rate, the new software WILL NOT communicate with the old, so upgrading is an all or nothing proposition. Basically, if we upgrade one node, we'll have to upgrade them all. So let's get to it and flash some ROMs! Good luck and no bricks!

More details are available at:

June 05, 2013

The repeater has a new home

UPDATED! Well, after more investigation, we discovered that the original coax appears to be connected to a small yagi antenna about two-thirds up the tower and not the 2-meter repeater antenna at the top. (Honestly, it's kind of hard to see when the sun is directly above the tower!) So, after cutting and splicing and reconnecting, the signal is GREATLY improved. Now the question is, again, how much coverage will it have. Feel free to add your reports in the comment section below. The more reports we have, the better idea we'll have of its capabilities.

May 31, 2013

The Future of the Repeater

by KN5G - Hope everyone had a great Memorial Day weekend and didn’t over indulge with too much good food or get too much sun!

Keith, KN5G
As most of you already know our Henderson repeater is experiencing some technical problems. We believe it is due to an issue in the feed line or the connection between the feed line and the antenna on top of the water tower.
The repeater, cavities and jumpers in the shack below the water tower have all been checked out a couple of times without an issue being found. Of course the access to the radio shack below the water tower is limited due to Homeland Security Regulations regarding public water supplies so it isn’t easy to gain access when the repeater is acting up. Also it isn’t easy to find someone with the required insurance to climb the tower and check on the feed line or connection to the antenna.

April 30, 2013

Boston highlights benefits of ham radio

There was a recent article highlighting the role that ham radio was able to play during the Boston bombings.

Fortunately, hams were already on the scene working to support the marathon when the explosions took place. They simply took on a new role when cell service shut down in the chaotic aftermath.

What a great reason to get an amateur radio license!

April 29, 2013

Rusk County hams featured in Henderson paper

A story about the new Rusk County Amateur Radio Club appeared in Monday's edition of the Henderson Daily News. Here's the link: Story.

The story talks about the beginning of the club and our plans to host a Field Day in June.

April 25, 2013

Broadband Amateur Newtorks

There is an exciting development going on to bring about the existence of a high-speed, broadband amateur network. Below in an video introducing the concept and how to get involved.

More information can be found on the Austin group's website: including a link to a buying guide for WRT54G hardware. Other hardware may be supported, but this is currently the best list.

By registering with the site, you gain access to a few more links to information as well as updates when they happen. Also, check out the Yahoo Group: DAWG-HSMM which is made up, mostly, of mesh-net hams in the Dallas area.

April 18, 2013

2013 Field Day plans begin to take shape

Field Day is drawing near and plans for the Rusk County Amateur Radio Club's Field Day operations are starting to fall into place. Members of the RCARC discussed preliminary plans during the monthly meeting in March. The clubs hopes to operate at Lake Forest Park from noon, June 22 to noon, June 23.

The public will be invited to attend and several radios will be setup for use during the national event. Check back often, as we will be posting more details and they are planned.

April 04, 2013

Advanced Skywarn class held

Several Rusk County ARC hams, along with a handful of others interested in weather, attended an Advanced Skywarn class Thursday evening, April 4th. Attendees learned about the how cold fronts, warm fronts, highs and low combine to trigger severe weather. Students also learn how to better interpret radar and weather data to determine the most likely place dangerous tornados activity might take place.

The class was taught by a National Weather Service representative from Shreveport, Louisiana.

March 05, 2013

New club established for area hams

A group of seven Rusk County Hams recently met to establish a new Amateur Radio club in East Texas. President Keith Ballow says the organization is hoping to promote ham radio to a new generation.

"We hope to bring the excitement of ham radio and electronics to the young people of Rusk County," said Ballow. "Of course, we'll have activities for all ages. Several local hams are interested in storm spotting, community service, emergency preparedness and even just talking to folks on the radio."

The Rusk County Amateur Radio Club is made up local amateur radio operators and their families. "Hams," as they are often called, are licensed by the Federal Communications Commission to operate two-way radios on shortwave, VHF, microwave and other frequencies. While most often seen providing emergency communications during natural distastes  many hams enjoy talking around town or around the world nearly everyday.